The city of Carlsbad declared a state of local emergency Tuesday for bicycle and e-bike safety, following a worrying increase in the number of collisions.
According to the city, there have been 57 collisions involving cyclists this year, nearly matching 2020’s total of 62 and not far behind the pace of 2021’s 100 collisions.
Such collisions are up 233% since 2019, and city officials said in a statement they want to “increase attention and resources on a range of solutions including infrastructure, safety, enforcement and a focus on safe driving behavior education.”
With the declaration, Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick has called on resources from the city’s police, fire, transportation and community education departments to develop action plans to be presented to the City Council Aug. 30, followed by a comprehensive plan on Sept. 27.
“The exponential increase in ridership, especially among young people, has significantly changed how people are using Carlsbad’s roads,” Chadwick said in a statement. “In addition to adding miles of new bike lanes, we’ve passed new laws, promoted awareness and ramped up enforcement. Despite these efforts, we continue to see collisions, including two tragic fatalities within the past 17 days.”
According to the city, an emergency declaration allows the city to reallocate resources, expedite certain actions and temporarily bypass lengthy processes to address an existing or imminent threat. The official declaration covers the safety of bicycles, e-bikes and other motorized devices, which could include electric scooters and motorized skateboards.
“This is an issue that affects every single member of our community, and it will take all of us working together to make our streets safer,” Chadwick said.
The use of bikes and e-bikes increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in December 2020, the City Council approved a plan to add and expand sidewalks and bike lanes, while taking steps to slow down cars on streets throughout Carlsbad.
In June, the council directed staff to expedite street projects in the budget. However, with hundreds of miles of city roads, the plan will still take many years to complete, according to the city.
In April, the council approved Carlsbad-specific rules for e-bike riders designed to give Carlsbad police officers with more enforcement options, including a diversion program that gives minors the option of completing an e- bike safety course after their first offense.
Carlsbad’s emergency declaration goes into effect immediately and will be in place until the Aug. 30 council meeting, when the council will consider whether to ratify it. If ratified, the emergency declaration would then need to be reviewed by the council every 60 days until it ends the local state of emergency.
— City News Service